Whether you’re considering a water cooler for your office, home, or some other type of shared space, installing one can be advantageous in many ways. Having both piping hot and ice cold water at the touch of a button is extremely convenient. Adding to this, we all know that staying hydrated is good for our health and energy levels. What’s more, these units are environmentally friendly because they cut down on the amount of waste that ends up in the landfill from individual water bottles.
The first drinking water fountain was invented all the way back in 1906 in an effort to reduce the risk of contracting typhoid fever from contaminated water. Over time, water coolers were developed in various sizes and shapes for the purpose of making healthy drinking water more accessible. Today’s units, as you’ll discover in this water cooler reviews article, have come a long way, with a plethora of features and variations to choose from.
To save you some time and help you narrow down your search, our experts have researched and assessed all of the top models on the market. Use our handy guide to help you choose the best water cooler for your home or office in 2021.
Water Cooler Comparison Chart
|Primo Top Loading Two Spout Water Cooler Dispenser|
Our Top Pick for 2020
Click to read review
|Primo Top Loading Three Spout Water Cooler Dispenser|
Click to read review
|AQUAWELL Top Loading Water Cooler Dispenser|
Click to read review
|Avalon A5 Bottom Loading Water Cooler Dispenser|
Click to read review
|Avalon A4 Bottom Loading Water Cooler Dispenser|
Click to read review
|KUPPET Top Loading Water Cooler Dispenser|
Click to read review
|Brio CL520 Top Loading Water Cooler Dispenser|
Click to read review
Best Water Dispenser Reviews
1. Primo Bottom Loading Two Spout Water Cooler DispenserVIEW PRICE
The Primo 2 Spout Water Dispenser is a bottom loading, freestanding water cooler that accommodates three- or five- water bottles. This model dispenses hot water at the perfect temperature for tea and other hot beverages, or ice-cold water, instantly. Stainless steel water reservoirs and a dishwasher safe removable drip tray come standard with this machine. The sleek design of this water cooler makes it perfect for home or office use.
This unit has a minimal and sleek profile due to the water bottles being concealed inside the water cooler’s cabinet. Even better, there’s no heavy lifting or flipping required to load water into the machine; just place your water bottle in the cabinet and insert the probe. Water is pumped up into the reservoirs with the unit’s built-in water pump. Reviewers report that the ease of loading is their favorite feature of this dispenser!
Primo has engineered this water cooler to have separate heating and cooling switches for versatility. The hot water dispenser is also equipped with a child-resistant safety feature for added peace of mind. This Primo model is surprisingly quiet, even when the pump turns on to pull water into the reservoirs. It is also very compact and great for areas where space is at a premium.
This 2 Spout Water Dispenser will not dispense water when the power goes out since it requires electricity to run the pump. If that’s a concern for you, consider a gravity-fed top loading model instead. This unit is UL Certified and Energy Star Rated for efficiency. It also comes with a 1-year warranty from the manufacturer.
2. Primo Top Loading Three Spout Water Cooler DispenserVIEW PRICE
The Primo 3 Spout Water Dispenser is also a top loading, freestanding unit. This water cooler has three separate dispensers for ice-cold, room temperature, and piping hot water at the touch of a button. The unit has a modern, sleek look that will compliment your home or office décor and can accommodate either three- or five- gallon water bottles.
For added convenience, Primo has designed this unit with separate control switches for hot and cold water, allowing you to turn them off when not in use. Additionally, it’s been designed with a spill-proof bottle holder and leak guard that prevents spills when loading water bottles onto the machine. It also comes with dishwasher safe, stainless steel drip trays to make clean up fast and easy. The LED night light is a great bonus feature, too.
One of our favorite features of this machine, however, is the child safety lock that prevents hot water accidents. With the included safety bracket to prevent tipping, you never have to worry about your little ones around this Primo water dispenser. Reviewers also report that this water cooler is very quiet and compact enough to fit in tight spaces.
This model does not come with a mini fridge, so if that feature is important to you, check out another unit in our article. The Primo water cooler can be purchased in an all-black stainless-steel or traditional stainless-steel and black finish. This unit is Energy Star rated and UL certified and also comes with a one-year warranty.
3. AQUAWELL Top Loading Water Cooler DispenserVIEW PRICE
The AQUAWELL Water Dispenser is a top loading, freestanding (no plumbing required) water cooler that can accommodate both three- and five- gallon water bottles. This unit features hot, cold, and room temperature water spigots, all in one compact unit. It also has a large capacity storage cabinet underneath for cold drinks. The AQUAWELL has been created with a sleek, stylish design that looks great in any home or office. Its slim footprint is perfect for tight spaces, making this water dispenser even more versatile.
We love the separate food grade stainless steel hot and cold water tanks that come standard with this dispenser. Furthermore, thanks to its advanced compression refrigeration technology, this water cooler dispenses water that is 9° F colder than most other water coolers. Not only that, but it also dispenses it faster than electronic refrigeration. The company has also incorporated a high-efficiency compressor for faster cycling and whisper quiet efficiency. A removable drip tray makes clean up easy.
For your peace of mind, AQUAWELL includes a built-in, child-resistant safety lock on the hot water outlet. With 500 watts of heating power and 70 watts of cooling power, this water dispenser keeps water at the perfect temperature for all your favorite hot or cold drinks. What’s more, the unit has separate on/off switches for heating and cooling.
This top tier unit from AQUAWELL can be purchased in either a stainless steel or black finish, and the company backs it up with a one-year manufacturer warranty. It is also ETL and FDA approved for safety.
4. Avalon A5 Bottom Loading Water Cooler DispenserVIEW PRICE
The Avalon A5 Self Cleaning Bottleless Water Cooler Dispenser is an excellent option for those who want to avoid the expense and hassle of bottled water altogether. This unit connects easily to your existing cold-water source and dispenses ice-cold, room temperature, or piping hot water at the touch of a button. An installation kit is included with the machine, and any do-it-yourselfer can complete the installation in minutes.
The Avalon A5 comes equipped with a sediment filter and a carbon block filter. Simply change the filters every six months for a continuous supply of purified water. The filters are capable of removing chlorine, bacteria, rust, lead, and more from your tap water. A child safety lock is also included on the hot water tap. For added safety, the dispenser buttons are located on the top of the machine, making them harder for small children to reach.
One of our favorite features of this machine is the self-cleaning ozone function. Just press a switch to clean your machine’s water tank with an injection of ozone. We also appreciate the built-in leak detector that monitors the flow of water from your sink water line going into the machine. The night light makes it easy to find the water spouts in the dark.
The Avalon A5 is a little pricier than most freestanding water coolers, but you’ll never have to purchase bottled water again. It will also have to be positioned close to an existing water line. You can buy this machine in a full-size or countertop model, and it is UL and Energy Star approved. For more countertop-styles units, you need look no further than our Countertop Water Filter post. The company provides a 1-year warranty on the machine and filters.
5. Avalon A4 Bottom Loading Water Cooler DispenserVIEW PRICE
The Avalon A4 Water Cooler Dispenser is suitable for three- to five- gallon water bottles. It features three temperature settings: hot, room temperature, and cold. The cabinet has an innovative, streamlined design that fits right in at the office or home. Since the water is pumped up from the bottom cabinet, there’s no need to lift and flip heavy water jugs during loading. That means less risk of spills, too.
The water spouts are clearly visible at night, thanks to the built-in nightlight. The unit also comes with an indicator light that lights up when the bottle needs to be changed. A child safety lock is also included on the hot water spout for added safety. This model comes equipped with separate switches for the hot and cold water, and a separate one for the nightlight.
Reviewers of this unit report that it never leaks and it’s much quieter than they expected. The attractive design fits well in any décor and doesn’t require a lot of space. The Avalon Bottom Loading Water Cooler comes in a modern black and stainless-steel finish.
Although most customers are pleased with their purchase, a few do have issues with the dispensing buttons being hard to push. However, the company provides excellent customer service and stands behind their product with a 1-year warranty. The Avalon A4 Water Cooler Dispenser is UL and Energy Star Approved.
6. KUPPET Top Loading Water Cooler DispenserVIEW PRICE
The Kuppet Water Cooler Dispenser is a top loading, freestanding model featuring two temperature settings: hot and cold. This water cooler uses advanced compression refrigeration technology to dispense water faster and keep it colder than most other coolers. Cold water dispenses at 42-50°, and hot water dispenses at 190-203°, instantly, with just the press of a handle.
This machine can be purchased in either a black/stainless steel finish or white. It has simple, modern stylings that will look great in the home, kitchen, or office. A removable drip tray and detachable water barrel seat make this dispenser easy to clean. The Kuppet Water Cooler can accommodate both three- and five- gallon water bottles for added versatility.
We found the Kuppet Water Cooler to be very quiet, even when heating or cooling, and the child safety lock on the hot water spout is a valuable safety feature. There are separate switches for hot and cold water located on the back of the machine. All components of this machine are made with ABS food grade plastic or stainless steel. It also features an adjustable foundation for leveling.
Although the Kuppet Water Cooler has a storage cabinet in the bottom, the cabinet does not get super cold like a refrigerator. If you’re looking for a unit that will keep beverages in the bottom cabinet cold, the AQUAWELL unit featured in the above water dispenser review is a better choice. This machine is UL and Energy Star approved for efficiency.
7. Brio CL520 Top Loading Water Cooler DispenserVIEW PRICE
The Brio CL520 Water Cooler Dispenser is a commercial grade, top loading, freestanding water cooler that accommodates both three- and five- gallon water bottles. This machine instantly dispenses hot and cold water with the flip of a lever. The cabinet is made of commercial grade ABS plastic, so it’s extra durable. This unit also features stainless steel water reservoirs to keep your water pure and clean.
This model comes in a modern black design that would complement any home or office. Additional features include a removable drip tray made of anti-rust, BPA free plastic for easy cleaning. The Brio CL520 can accommodate non-spill top bottles so you can load the machine without fear of messes. The nozzle of your bottle will fit securely on the cooler, and all components are BPA free. The spill-proof nozzle can also be removed if you prefer to use bottles without the nozzle.
The Brio CL520 comes equipped with an energy efficient, high-quality compressor that is whisper quiet and extremely reliable. This unit also has a built-in child safety lock on the hot water nozzle to prevent accidents. The machine is compact and lightweight, so it’s great for tight spaces.
Although the Brio CL520 is equipped with a child safety lock on the hot water spigot, both nozzles are located right on the front of the unit. This may be a concern for parents of young children since there’s nothing to prevent them from playing with the cold water spigot. Brio offers an astounding limited 10-year warranty on its products, making it the longest warranty offered in this article, if not the longest on the market.
Advantages of a Water Cooler
There are a multitude of reasons to have a water cooler in your home or office. The obvious main advantage is having control over the quality of the water you put into your body. Studies show that our tap water is often contaminated with things like chlorine, bacteria, lead, and in some cases, even arsenic. Tap water usually has an unpleasant taste, too. With a water cooler in your home or office, you can have great tasting, pure, high-quality water at your fingertips at any time.
Installing a water cooler can provide numerous health benefits to your family or staff, as well. Have you noticed that your employees or family members (or even yourself) become unmotivated, distracted, and drowsy as the day progresses? Believe it or not, adding a water cooler could solve this issue! It could even lead to an increase in productivity and better moods.
Most health experts say that the average adult should consume at least 2.5 liters of water each day. When there’s cold, clean, great tasting water on hand, staff and family members are more likely to drink it, instead of automatically reaching for sugar-filled soda and juice. The increased water intake will have a positive effect on their overall health and energy levels.
In fact, many studies show that consuming sufficient amounts of water plays a crucial role in metabolic health. Increased water consumption improves digestion and can even help control weight gain. Staying hydrated also makes your skin look healthier and more vibrant, reduces aches and pains in the joints, and flushes toxins out of your body.
Having a water cooler in your home or office is good for the wallet, too. Purchasing individual bottles of water every week can get very expensive. With a water cooler, you are buying filtered water in three- or five- gallon jugs at a much more affordable price. Not only that, but the jugs are reusable, so they are much better for the environment than tossing individual water bottles in the trash. You can even provide your family with reusable water bottles to fill at your home water cooler before they leave the house, so they have clean water to drink on the go.
With a bottleless water cooler, you can even eliminate the need to purchase bottled water altogether by getting a model that hooks up to your existing cold-water line. All you have to do is change the filters as recommended by the manufacturer, and you’ll have a limitless supply of clear, pure water anytime you need it. Take the environmental benefits a step further by providing reusable cups at the office (or ask employees to bring their own) instead of using disposable ones.
Water dispensers are convenient in other ways, too. Most models keep piping hot water and ice-cold water ready to use at a moment’s notice. There’s no need to keep ice on hand for cold drinking water since the water is already thoroughly chilled. And, if you enjoy drinking hot tea or cocoa, you can dispense water at the perfect temperature for hot beverages instantly, without the need to turn on the stove or microwave. It’s a real time saver! Your family or staff can even use hot water to cook their noodles for lunch instantly.
Many models also dispense room temperature water, as well. You may not think you would use this feature often, but it actually comes in very handy when you’re cooking or filling up the coffee pot. It’s great for filling your pet’s water bowl, too. You don’t want to use unpleasant tasting, chemical-filled tap water in your cooking, and you certainly don’t want your pets drinking it either.
Installing a water cooler can be a real lifesaver if you’re short on refrigerator space, too. Individual water bottles can take up a lot of precious shelf space in your fridge. Not only that, but some top-loading models, like the AQUAWELL, mentioned above, have refrigerated cabinets underneath for storing cold beverages and snacks.
If your interest is piqued regarding clean water, also check out our Best Whole House Water Filter article!
Water Cooler Cleaning and Maintenance
Today’s water coolers are very low maintenance and easy to clean. If you clean and sanitize your water cooler regularly, you will extend the life of your machine and ensure that your water is pure and fresh tasting every time you use it. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, you should clean your water cooler every six weeks. You probably already have everything you need on hand to clean your water dispenser.
Gather these supplies before you start:
- A clean sponge or lint-free cloth
- Mild dish detergent
- 1/3 Gallon of white vinegar OR 1 tablespoon of unscented bleach (do not use both.)
- One gallon of hot water
- Fresh, clean water (distilled is best)
- A large, clean bucket
Preparing Your Water Cooler for Cleaning
It’s best to wait until the water bottle on your cooler needs to be changed before you begin. Start by removing the empty bottle. We also recommend wearing gloves throughout the procedure, especially if you decide to use bleach.
How to Clean Your Top Loading Water Cooler
You should always unplug the unit before you begin the cleaning process to avoid the risk of being shocked. Once the water bottle is out of the way, drain any water that remains in your machine into your empty bucket and empty it into a nearby sink. In your empty bucket, combine your vinegar or bleach with the hot water and stir it slowly until well-mixed. Slowly pour the solution into the water reservoir and let it sit for about 15 minutes.
Now, drain the solution through both water taps into your bucket. To finish cleaning the inside of your water cooler, you’ll need to flush out any remaining cleaning solution carefully. To do this, fill the water reservoir with clean bottled water and drain it out through both water taps and into your bucket. You may have to repeat the fresh water flush as many as four times to ensure there’s no vinegar or bleach taste left behind.
Cleaning a Bottom Loading Water Cooler
To clean a bottom loading water cooler, drain all water from the machine. Mix the cleaning solution and pour it into an empty water bottle. Load the bottle into the machine and let the solution flow through both spigots. Let the cleaning solution sit inside the machine for about 15 minutes. Now, flush the unit with at least two gallons of clean water. Wipe down the inside of the cabinet to remove any dust or dirt.
Cleaning the Outside of Your Water Cooler
You will use the same procedure to clean the outside of your water cooler, no matter what type of machine you have. Start by removing the drip tray and washing it well with mild dish soap. Some drip trays can also be run through the dishwasher. Now, wipe down the outside of your machine with mild soap and water to remove any dust or dirt. At this point, you are ready to load your water cooler with a fresh bottle of water.
Loading Water Bottles Into the Dispenser
Whether you have a top loader or a bottom loading machine, the process of loading new bottles is pretty easy. For a top loader, simply lift the bottle and flip it over, so the open end is in the water reservoir. With a bottom loading machine, place your water bottle in the cabinet and insert the dispenser tubes through the hole at the top. Since bottom loaders require a pump to dispense the water, you may need to follow the manufacturer’s instructions to prime the pump. It’s a simple process that usually just involves running water out of each spigot for 60 seconds to remove air from the lines.
Best Water Cooler Buyer’s Guide
With so many options to choose from, it might be difficult to decide which water dispenser is the best choice for your home or office. We recommend that you start by determining if you want a top loading, bottom loading, or bottleless water cooler. Here are a few pros and cons of each type to help you choose:
Top Loading Water Dispensers
Top loading water coolers usually hold three- to five- gallon water jugs. This type of dispenser is very easy to use and clean. Many top loaders dispense water at three different temperatures, hot, cold, and room temperature, so they are very versatile. Another significant advantage of the top loading dispensers is that they are gravity fed, meaning in the event of a power outage, you will still be able to dispense water from your machine, even though it will not be heated or chilled. The main disadvantage of a top loader is having to lift the heavy water bottles and flip them to load them into the machine. However, most newer machines are equipped with spill-proof nozzles, so you shouldn’t have to worry about flipping the jug quickly to prevent water spilling everywhere. Another disadvantage is that the water reservoir is exposed to the environment when there’s no bottle on the machine. This could allow dust or debris to enter the water dispenser, so you will always need to keep the reservoir covered.
Bottom Loading Water Dispensers
Bottom loading dispensers also hold jugs in three- to five- gallon capacities. Many models dispense water at three different temperatures, too. One of the most significant advantages of a bottom loading water cooler is that you don’t have to lift the jugs up high or flip them over to load them; the jugs are merely set inside the cabinet. Bottom loading dispensers also have a neater appearance since the bottle is hidden away inside the cabinet. Another advantage is that bottom loaders are more contained, so there’s less chance of dust or debris contaminating the water supply. Some users may be unfamiliar with the process of priming the pump, but it’s a simple procedure. Bottom loaders do require electricity to dispense water so you can not use them at all in the case of a power outage.
Bottleless Water Dispensers
Bottleless water coolers hook up to your existing cold-water line, so there’s no need to purchase or load water bottles at all. They are entirely contained, which means there’s minimal risk of dust or debris entering your water. However, they can only be used in locations where there is a sink or other water source handy since they must be hooked up to existing plumbing. FloWater is one startup attempting to get their bottleless refill stations in as many locations as possible.
Water Cooler Key Features
When you begin your search for the perfect water cooler, there are some other key features to consider. One of the most important is build quality. We recommend choosing a water cooler that is made of commercial or food grade, BPA free plastic, and stainless steel components. The water reservoirs should be made of stainless steel as well.
If you have small children in the home, always choose a model that has a child safety lock on the hot water dispenser to prevent scald accidents. It’s also nice if the dispenser buttons are placed on the top of the unit, where young children can’t reach them so easily. Children love to play with water and having the buttons out of their reach can help prevent messes.
If you’re looking for a unit that is very low maintenance and economical, look for a model that is self-cleaning and bottleless, such as the Avalon A5 discussed above. This machine also features a two-step filtration process, so you never have to worry about purchasing bottled water.
Advanced compression refrigeration technology is also a great feature to look for. This technology allows the unit to dispense cold water faster than other units, and the water will be colder, too. Water coolers that are equipped with high-efficiency compressors will cycle the water more quickly, are whisper quiet, and use less electricity. The AQUAWELL unit mentioned above offers both of these features.
If hot water is of utmost importance, also take a look at instant hot water dispensers, which are a more permanent solution.
There’s a lot to consider when choosing the best water dispenser for your home or office. While this guide should help you narrow down your search, only you can decide which features are most important for your situation. With the health benefits water coolers provide both to you and your family/colleagues, as well as the way in which their refillable nature helps protect our planet, the question shouldn’t be whether or not you should be considering a water cooler, but which water cooler specifically.